Room is a 2015 independent drama film directed by Lenny Abrahamson and stars Brie Larson, Jacob Trembly, Joan Allen and Sean Bridgers. The movie starts off with narration from the main character, Jack, a five-year-old boy telling us about himself, his mother, and where they live. Jack and Ma are in a backyard shed called Room which is where they live and where Jack was born. The young boy has never had any contact with the outside world and believes only he and Ma are real and alive. The other person Jack is aware of, though has little interaction with is a man he calls “Old Nick”, who Jack believes is only half real because he doesn’t live in Room. Viewers of the film understand that “Old Nick” is not a good man, as most nights he comes into Room, when Jack is supposed to be sleeping, and rapes Ma. Not long after Jack turns five, Ma comes to the decision that the two of them need to escape in order to get away from “Old Nick” and live a normal life. The movie is based on the 2010 Emma Donoghue novel of the same name. In this blog post I will be analyzing the character of Jack and the scene where Ma tries to kill herself; looking at how the film is different between the mediums and how it affects the story for both book and movie.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) is a drama/fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and is rated PG-13. The movie begins with the protagonist Jacob Portman, played by Asa Butterfield, receiving a weird phone call from his grandfather Abe. This phone call raises concerns Jacob, which sends him to check on his grandfather. When Jacob finds Abe he is severely injured and missing his eyeballs. With one last riddle to his grandson about finding the bird in the loop, Abe dies. His intent was to get Jacob to find Miss Peregrine in the time loop she lives in, but because he is dying, Abe can not make this clear to his grandson. The movie skips forward after this traumatic experience to several months in the future, where Jacob finds a clue to his grandfather’s mysterious past on the island of Cairnholm in Wales. This discovery sets Jacob on an adventure to find out what really happened to his grandfather, and to learn about who he really was. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs and was published in 2011. For this adaptation I will be focusing on three things the filmmakers chose to change, and my interpretation of possible reasons as to why.
*Note: For readers who are unfamiliar with the story, Peculiars are people naturally born with abnormal or fantastical abilities, though they are rarely able to use their gift right at birth. Most Peculiars acquire the use of these gifts sometime during childhood, but it can happen anytime in their lives. There is a special type of Peculiar, called an Ymbryne, which are always female and can turn into a bird. What is most special about them though, is their ability to create loops which are time pockets that can be made for one whole day. As long as the Ymbryne is there to restart the loop they can live in that day forever. This is why Ymbrynes are charged with the care of Peculiar children, they keep the children safe from the outside world and it keeps them from aging.*
In the film industry, often when a new movie is being made it is another form of a story that has already been told. Sometimes though this is intentional and is called an adaptation, and most times this is when a movie is made from using material from a piece of text, a book, videogame, another film, etc. When this happens, we can examine it and look deeper into the film with the theory of adaptation. In my first blog of Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen, I will be explaining the ideas of fidelity, the essence of the medium, plot, and characters when it comes to movie adaptations.
When an adaptation is made most people want the movie to be as faithful to the original work as much as possible. If not, they often get upset about it, which leads to poor reviews. This tends to happen when a film adaption fails to capture what the previous audience felt is the fundamental narrative, thematic, and aesthetic features of the original text. An idea like complete fidelity can be problematic because the medium of telling the story has been switched from one form of text to another, film. Which means there will be automatic differences in the way the story is told or shown and perceived. This brings up the point that film is a multitrack medium, meaning you can play not only with words, but also with performance, music, sound effects, and moving photographic images. This explains the implausibility of complete fidelity and a good reason for the undesirability for literal fidelity. There are things that are told in a book and even explained, but that can be very different than actually seeing that event or thing in a film. This is why the idea of fidelity can be tricky. The movie should remain faithful to the source material to some extent, but it should also leave room for interpretation and what fits with the medium of presentation.